Entries Tagged 'How to' ↓

CL360: First attempt at polishing

I ordered a Dremel tool and purchased some aluminum polish.  I’ve been looking on how to polish aluminum all over the Internet so I can polish the engine cases on the CL.  So here’s what  I learned.

1.  Get a variety of sand paper (I use 400, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit).  Wet/dry sandpaper seems to work the best because you can wash it out.

2. In one direction, sand the piece.   Do not sand in circles. The idea is to smooth the aluminum out.  after you get the rough spots worked out take the next softest grit up (1,000) and sand at a 90 degree angle of what you did before.  This gets the scratches out from the previous sand paper.  Do this using all of the sand paper and switch directions every time you change sand paper.

3. Use some rubbing compound over the piece to help smooth the aluminum further. In this case, I used Turtle Wax’s red rubbing compound.

4. Wipe the rubbing compound off and apply aluminum polish to the piece.  I used Mother’s aluminum polish and work it into the piece.  If you are doing this by hand you want to use a soft towel.  I used a buffing wheel on my bench grinder or my Dremel for small pieces.

Here’s the first piece.  Not the best but it is a start.  The piece goes on top of the valve cover for the engine.  Next week I tear into the gummed up carbs.

CL360 Breather Cover

How to Replace a Constant Velocity (C.V.) Boot

freed axle

The C.V boot on Austin’s Sentra tore and he got quoted about three hundred buck-a-roos to replace it.  As I am the mechanic of the family that means I get to do it in my garage for the price of beer.  It’s a fair trade…

Estimated Time: Two Beers (about 1 hour)

Skill Level: Some mechanical aptitude and tools will definitely help.

Must have tools

1.  Crack open a beer.

2. Raise the front of the vehicle using a jack and support the vehicle with jack stands.

2.  Remove the appropriate wheel.  The driver side outer boot was torn so that was the side of the car we took the wheel off of.

3.  Remove the cotter pin from the axle nut.

4.  Remove the cotter pin for the lower ball joint securing the ball joint nut in place.  Take a swig of beer.  The beer that night was Four Peaks Brewery’s Kiltlifter.  Mmmm good.

5.  Remove the axle nut.  This nut is usually on the axle tight.  I have air tools and used a half inch impact wrench with a 32mm deep socket.

6.  Remove the lower ball joint nut using a 19mm wrench.  Take another swig of beer.

7. Take a hammer and knock the lower part of the steering knuckle the ball joint is in.  The goal is to jar the ball joint loose.  Hopefully you haven’t had too many beers at this point and you can hit the knuckle not the lower control arm.


8. Take a pry-bar and move the lower control arm out of the steering knuckle.  Slide the axle out of the hub.

9. Remove the old C.V. boot using a pair of side cutters.  Using a dead blow hammer knock the stub axle off of the end of the axle shaft.  The stub axle might not come off of the axle shaft and you may need to remove the entire axle from the transmission and place it into a vice to remove the stub axle.  Don’t forget to check your transmission after your done with the repair if you remove the axle from the transmission.

10.  Clean the old grease out of the C.V. joint on the stub axle.  Twist the grease package and clip the end of it.  Force the grease into the center of the C.V. joint until grease moves around the ball bearings in the joint. You should still have some grease remaining.  NOTE: The C.V. boot kit contains a new snap ring.  I don’t recommend replacing it on the axle because it make the axle difficult to reinstall onto the C.V. joint.

Grease the C.V. Joint

11. Slide the new C.V. boot onto the axle with the new clamp. Finish off your beer.

12. Install the stub axle onto the axle with the dead blow hammer.  Make sure the joint is installed all the way.

13. Install the remaining grease into the inside of the C.V. boot and slide the boot over the stub axle.  Get a new beer and take a drink.

14. Crimp the boot clamp tight.  I carefully used a pair of side cutters but there is a special tool you can buy that is designed for these style clamps. Take two swigs on your beer.

Crimp the Boot Clamp

15.  Reinstall the axle into the hub and the ball joint into the steering knuckle.

16. Tighten the axle nut to the manufacturer torque specification.

17. Tighten the lower ball joint nut to the manufacturer torque specification.

18. Install NEW cotter pins into the axle shaft and lower ball joint. Finish off the second beer.

19. Reinstall the wheel, and torque the lug nuts to the manufacturers torque specifications.  Lower the vehicle and let your brother-in-law test drive it for you since you have had two beers now.  The pictures below are all in order of the steps if you need something to reference.

These are guidelines on how to perform a repair and by no means am I or this site responsible for your mistakes on your vehicle or anyone who uses these instructions on for repair on another vehicle other than their own.  If you have question refer to a repair manual or if you don’t think you have the correct tool or are capable of doing the repair then don’t, take your vehicle to a repair shop.  I don’t condone drinking and driving, either.

How To Inspect a Used Car For Purchase

oil cap valve cover

If you are ready to test drive and look at the car, I’m going to assume you already talked about the title (No leins, No salvage) and that you have done your homework on the car (dependability, common problems, major maintenance concerns).  I always want to recommend to people to take a car you are serious about to a good and trusted mechanic, but I know some times you don’t have one or one is not available when you are looking.  These are guidelines and by no means am I to be held responsible for you buying a lemon.  With that said, now it is the time to check the car out for any major mechanical problems.  If you are doing this at night bring a flashlight.

Make sure the car is placed in an open place where you can walk around the vehicle.  If possible make sure the car has not been driven any time recently.  Ask about maintenance records if they have them.  This will help ease concerns during your inspection and let you focus on other items that might not have been taken care of.  If the car is equipped with a timing belt you will want to ask when the last time it was change; they need to be changed every 60,000 to 90,000 miles and can cost a couple hundred dollars to have replaced.

Start at the driver-side wheel.  Inspect the tire tread depth.  A penny is great to use for this by using Lincolns head as a depth gauge.

Inspect the body panels and make sure they are not a different color.  Look for paint over spray on the window and body edges.  This is an indication that the vehicle has been painted and was possibly in an accident.  If you cannot tell or see anything you will want to ask about the accidents and paint.  Look at the hood, wipers, windshield, headlights and lenses and turn signals.  Walk around to the passenger-side front wheel and check the tire.  Do the tires match with the other front tire? Is the tread worn on one side and not the other?  If so you may be looking for tires on the front two wheels and a wheel alignment.

Move along the passenger side of the car noting any body problems, broken glass, and door, door lock and window operation.  Move to the rear of the car and check the operation of the lights.   Inspect the signals, brake lights, and check both the rear tires for good tread.  Move to the driver-side of the vehicle and check everything you did on the passenger-side like doors and windows.

Now, it is time to open the hood and this is why it is important that the car is not warmed up.  Check the oil.  If it is low, it is a good indication of a leak.  If the oil is black or really dark it is a good indication the oil has not been changed recently and possibly not regularly.

Open the oil fill cap on the top of the valve cover and look into the top of the engine.  Look on the backside of the oil cap.  Is there oil burned onto the metal of the valve cover or cylinder head? Is there a black blob of congealed oil sitting in the back of the oil cap or in the valve cover?  These are both good indications that the oil has not been changed regularly.  Be wary, but this doesn’t necessarily keep you from buying the car.

Check the other fluids.  Automatic transmission fluid should be red.  Coolant or Anti-Freeze can be bright green (Most Cars), Orange (Most GM Cars), yellow or gold(2000 and Newer Ford and Chrysler), or Red (Toyota).  If the coolant is rusty, the coolant has not been changed regularly and can cause major mechanical problems in the future.  You may want to steer clear of the car if this is the case.  The power steering fluid should be full with the front wheels straight ahead.  If it is not the Power Steering may have a leak.

Inspect the drive belt(s) on the front of the engine for cracking.  If the belt(s) have cracks they will need to be replaced.  If the engine is cool inspect the radiator hoses by squeezing them gently.  If the hoses feel crunchy when you squeeze or fairly hard they will need to be replaced.  Make a note of that for bargaining.

Now it is time to start the engine.  Leave the driver-side door open while you do this.  Listen for any knocking clattering, or odd noises.  If the oil was low, really black, or congealed and there are noises, it is probably time to walk away.

Next turn the air conditioning on.  (If the temperature outside is less than 70 degrees the A/C is going to be hard to check.)  Put your hand next to the vent in the center of the dashboard.  The air out of the vents should be cold in less than a two minutes of turning the A/C on (This does not mean the car will be cool just the air directly out of the vent will be).  If it is not the A/C system maybe low due to a leak.

Time for the test drive.  Take the car on the freeway if possible.  Cycle every setting on the A/C and heater, every vent control, the radio, cruise control, power mirrors, defroster, headlights, turn signals, and don’t forget the wipers. It is actually a good idea to check the state of the wiper blades before you turn them on. Austin bought a car and picked it up on a rainy day. In spite of the fact that he picked up new blades on the way to pick it up, the seller didn’t notice that they were bad and was kind enough to etch half a circle across his windshield. Check how the vehicle accelerates.  Does is accelerate smooth?  Does it shift gears smooth? Does the clutch seem to hold when shifting gears?  Is there any vibrations?  Note any concerns.  If the automatic transmission is slipping walk away that is a major repair.  If the clutch is slipping negotiate for extra off.  If the gears are grinding on the manual transmission you probably want to walk away unless you know how to rebuild a transmission.

Test the brakes.  Do they operate smoothly? Any vibrations? Squeaks?  Vibrations and squeaks mean you might need to do the brakes on the car soon.  Make sure you mention that when negotiating.

Alright, if everthing looks good now it is time to start bargaining.  Bring up all the problems you found and use those to negociate for a lower price.  When you agree upon a price make sure the title is notorized and you get a bill of sale.  The car is yours go register it a drive away happy.

How To Buy a Used Car

Buying a used car

I often look at new car prices and my guts start wrenching. $30,000 here, $60,000 there, $12,000 for a Chevy Aveo. I can’t help but wonder, “seriously?” Why buy new when the price of the car is going to depreciate as much as 30% when driving it off of the lot? Then you have to pay for maintenance, tires, full insurance (cause it’s new), and what  other accessories you need to have while you’re paying it off. The simple solution is buy used.

Keep in Mind

The question you have to ask first when buying a used vehicle is what do you have budgeted for a vehicle? Keep in mind $1,000 is a minimum that you should have in reserve for repairs on the car the day after you purchase it, for any used car of any age. If can only spend around $5,000 then you should consider looking at cars costing $4,000. This can save you a lot of heartache in the end.  If you can afford a used car that is still under factory warranty that is usually the best way to go. If you have problems with the car, it is covered. But, most of us can’t afford those either (myself included).

Do Your Research

Look for a vehicle based on function for your needs not necessarily by a specific manufacturer. I know, Toyota, Ford, Honda, etc. is all you’ll ever get, but every manufacture has vehicles that have more problems than others in their line-up. This is why it is important to do your research. Let’s say you are looking for a small SUV, there are a ton of manufacturers that produce compact SUVs. Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, Subaru, Ford, GM, and on and on. But there are ones that have better maintenance and durability than others, so keep your options open. Select a few that you like out of the group and find out which ones have been the most reliable.

The Important First Question
Regardless of where you are buying from a dealer or private party, ask about the title.  You’ll probably get weird looks from the dealer but it is important.  This goes for all vehicle titles, check to make sure it is not a salvage title or restored salvage title.  If the title is salvage it is in your best interest to walk away even if it is a “killer deal”.  A salvage title usually means the vehicle has been in an accident and even the insurance company didn’t feel the vehicle was worth repairing or saving. There are exceptions to this rule, especially for motorcycles, but for the average person, buying a salvage title vehicle is a bad idea. Salvage title vehicles are for mechanics, race car drivers, and do-it-your-selfers, not the regular working man or woman who needs a dependable and safe vehicle.

Buying at a Dealer?

Alright, so you’ve got a car you’re interested in and it is at a dealer. There is good and bad when buying at a Dealer. The good is you can usually get them to repair or knock money off the price of the vehicle for problems found. Secondly they are not likely to sell you a vehicle with a Salvage Title (Assuming you go to a reputable place.). But here is the bad, you have to pay sales tax on what you get from a dealer. Secondly, the haggling and hassling of a dealer is tough, especially if you’re trading your car in. The important thing to remember is to know what you want to pay for the car, know the fair value of the vehicle and your trade-in, and if they are unwilling to give in to your price, walk away. This is why you need to have options, you might not get the first car you see or you like.

Buying Private Party?

I have purchased every vehicle I have ever owned from private parties.  There are a lot of people who like to take advantage of others so be prepared to walk away from a vehicle at anytime.  Start by calling up the person and asking about the Title.  The title should be free and clear but if it has a lien on it and the vehicle is paid off it needs to have a lien release with it.  Some titles are bank owned and have to get transferred over by the bank and seller.

Next ask if it has ever been in an accident.  Some vehicles have been in accidents and still have good titles.  For the most part you don’t want to by a car that has been in an accident.  A fender bender or dings doesn’t count, I’m talking major frame components moving.  Finally ask about mileage, maintenance of the vehicle, and find out if it is in good working order.

If after all of this and you feel comfortable with the car, set up a time to take the car for a test drive.  Remember, be ready to move onto another vehicle if you don’t like what you hear.  Keeping these steps in mind can save you valuable time in the long run and a lot of heartache in the end.

photo from flickr user mhashi

Can You Roll with 100hp? (AE86 Dyno)

Did I ever mention how much I love my old 1987 Toyota Corolla? Well, I do. (If you don’t care about reading my article and only care about the numbers then scroll the to bottom of the page.)

The past several month, life for Austin and I has been down right insane. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a person out there reading or checking out our web site who hasn’t experienced the craziness of life at one time or another. During this craziness, Austin somehow manged to coerce me out of my S13, 240sx, or what ever you’d like to call it. So I’ve been stuck driving my Corolla. Which it turns out I like actually better. So If your interested in an S13 email me allen@62mph.com

During the progression of time I met some fellow AE86ers’ (I guess that is what you call us… it’s a word now.) and made some new friends along the way. One of them John, who I hope at one point will get to interview and review his really sweet MR2 Spyder, works at a garage with a dyno.

A little beer, helping him put on his body panels on his MR2 and next thing I know I’m running my AE86 on the Dyno.

It was Austin, My friend Noel, John and of course yours truly. We decided to play the “Price is Right” with my Dyno numbers at which point I found out that John is a pessimist at 85 HP to the wheels. Noel was only slightly better with 90 Hp and I guessed 92 HP. Austin, Ah Austin the eternal optimist guessed 98HP.

Well with the car being pretty much stock with the exception of a TRD header, High-Flow Catalytic Converter, and an Megan under tail exhaust (I don’t recommend bad customer service and I had to get it re-welded for ground clearance.), I put down 106 HP! That exhaust kicks %^#!

Really?! The first run was 92 HP to the wheels. Looks like I was right. I would have been a little more excited to see 95 HP to the wheels but three HP is almost negligible.

But wait, I had the silencer in the muffler still and until now I’ve never ran the car with out it. So we ran the test again. 98 HP to the wheel and besides being ridiculously loud, it sounded about a hundred times better.

So if you have a silencer in your Megan Exhaust, burn it drive over it, use it for target practice but for the love of all things holy and horsepower related, never, ever, ever put that thing back in. That was an 8% gain in horsepower!

Continue reading →